Just checked in with the excellent Mark Ziegler of the San Diego Union Tribune, who was in attendance yesterday when Ron Artest made a rather splashy appearance in front of the 619 media to promote the Lakers exhibition game down south.
As you can tell from the hilarious stories that came out of the press conference Artest had quite a lot to say.
But I’d heard from someone else who was there that Artest also had a lot to say about Lamar Odom’s pending nuptials to Khloe Kardashian —which I wrote a column about today — but that the comments somehow didn’t get picked up by too many people.
I called Mark to check about it and he graciously filled me in. Anyway, here you go, from Ron’s mouth, through Mark’s tape recorder, to your computer screens:
ARTEST: “It’s great to be a Laker and reunite with Lamar Odom. I’ve known Lamar Odom since I was 8 or 9 years old. We played against each other from ages 8 or 9 up until ages 11 or 12, then played with each other from ages 11 or 12 all the way up to age 17. We’re both from Queens. His birthday is on the 7th of November and mine is on the 13th — same age. To reunite is great.
“Lamar is marrying Khloe. Congratulations. I love him. I’ll be at the wedding. I can’t wait.
“I needed him there. I felt really confident in my game, and then we’ve got Kobe. That makes you feel even more confident. Over the last couple years, I’ve been the main guy on my teams. I feel I can win. When you put Kobe in that situation on your team, you know you can win. But if Lamar’s not there, you’ve got to find a way to win. With Lamar coming back, it just boosts that confidence even more.
“With Lamar there, it gives us a better chance, especially with Rasheed Wallace over there at Boston. Rasheed is going to extend the defense, and Lamar is 6-11 and can go out there and play a little defense, and he’s a great rebounder and a great slasher.
“I tried to do all I could to get him to come back to L.A. But the main thing is, I wanted him to be happy, just being his friend. If he would not have come back to LA, you know, I would have been disappointed but I would support him. I’m more than happy to have him playing on this team.”